The Importance of Communication In a Marriage When You Have a Child With Disabilities
Having a child with disabilities or a chronic illness is incredibly stressful for the parents. Faced with a lifetime of providing care, it's easy to feel overwhelmed by negative emotions. One of the best ways to cope with these feelings is by sharing them with the other partner.
Both will react differently to the diagnosis, and they will adjust to the circumstances at different speeds. This makes it critical to keep the lines of communication open.
This is because a child who has special needs likely will impact all areas of the family's life. Finances, social life, future plans, parenting style, and recreational options all will change. The best way to deal with it all is to discuss it openly and honestly. Failure to do this may result in one or both partners getting "stuck" on some negative aspect of the situation, which makes it impossible to move ahead with acceptance.
To help the situation, seek the increased support of friends, family and spiritual advisors. This will enable the couple to spend time focusing on their relationship and individual pursuits that bring them joy and fulfillment. Such shared and individual activities will strengthen the relationship, improve outlooks and build better communication during even the most stressful situation.
It also may be helpful to seek the assistance of a professional counselor or therapist either on an individual basis or as a couple. Therapy provides excellent tools for working through trauma and difficult feelings. Moreover, the couple may learn new communication techniques that help them to better understand one another's needs and wants.
Keep in mind that changes do not have to be negative. Even a situation that may seem tragic or desperate usually has a silver lining. Try to keep looking for some positive aspect in even the darkest day. This will improve your outlook and encourage you to seek out better communication and more closeness with your partner. Improved communication in marriage may be what saves the relationship.
In fact, our firm works with couples who have children with varying degrees of disabilities.
Recently, a couple retained our mediation services in connection with reaching a divorce settlement. During the mediation sessions, it was revealed that there was a lot of stress that each of them were experiencing. They had one “healthy” daughter who had graduated from college and was getting ready to begin graduate school. Their teenage son, however, suffered from severe autism. Their son required a lot of attention and professional services. The husband was working “all the time” trying to bring home more money to pay for the additional support for their son, while the wife, who obtained her real estate license in the hopes of bringing in more income to the family as well, spent a lot of her time with their son and shuttling him from place to place and just being with and caring for him. The time and attention that their son needed simply didn’t allow for the wife to be out in the field generating income from real estate. The wife held resentment toward the husband because he was not home enough to help out with their son and the husband was feeling resentful toward the wife because she wasn’t working and bringing home any income. What they were missing, was seeing how they were all part of the family, each participating in their own way and contributing to the family to make it “work”. Husband was out making money to support the family and pay for the additional services that supported their son, and wife was doing everything she could to maintain the household, shuttle their son to school, to various professional services, managing his behavior and the like, and each of them simply could not “see” what the other was DO-ing and how each was in fact contributing and supporting the family. They were each “stuck” in their own “world” so focused on what each of them was doing and focused on what they saw as the other “not doing.” The husband saw himself as working to financially support the household while the wife was not contributing at all financially and he was frustrated by that. The wife saw herself as running around struggling to keep the household together and also managing their severely autistic son to make sure he had what he needed – and that she was doing this all on her own with no support from her husband. Neither of them was right, yet neither was wrong. While this might not be exactly the life and the marriage they had dreamed of when they said their “I do’s”, this is the life they were dealt, and that they chose and keep choosing each and every day. When that was revealed to each of them, they saw each other so profoundly differently. And, they decided to stop the mediation and instead, to work on their family and their marriage.
While this couple decided to keep their marriage intact and to work on it, there are many couples in similar situations who decide to call it quits. They can breakup amicably and have control over the outcome and work together in designing the details of their divorce, or they can each lawyer up and go to the court where a judge will decide for them. Either way, if you believe that your marriage is ending, whether you want to pursue a more amicable and less stressful resolution or engage in a litigated contentious divorce, contact Sabra Law Group at 646-472-7971 now.